Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Call me Hal

Today is a very sad day for me and I know for quite a few others also. This morning (Sunday) I got a call from Guy Runco, Executive Director of Bird TLC, telling me that Hal had passed away. I was in such shock I didn’t know how to respond. I spent the rest of the day vegging in front of the TV and eating all the junk food in the house. This has hit many of us hard.
How do you talk about an eagle that was special? He even made me feel special. He could no longer take care of himself in the wild due to no fault of his own. But, he was independent. He knew what he liked and told you what he didn’t like. He still captured magpies that strayed into his mew.
Hal was hatched in the Russian Harbor area of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge during the blackest days of recent Alaska History. The Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989 spilling 10.8 million gallons of Alaska crude oil into Prince William Sound creating the most devastating human-caused environmental disaster.
Hal was found on August 20, 1989 on the beech of Russian Harbor. He was thought to be about four months old. He had light oil on his breast and tail. He was picked up by the cleanup crew and processed through the Seward Bird Rescue Center. He was transferred to Bird TLC soon after. X-rays showed a fractured left wing at the shoulder which was non-repairable. After two months he began training to become Bird TLC’s first education eagle.
Hal has had 6 presenters over the years and has lived at 2 caretakers homes. He also spent some time living at the old clinic on Nielson Way and the current one on King Street.
He has traveled all over Alaska doing education presentations for Bird TLC. With me, he has traveled to Seward, Fox Island, Soldotna, Sterling, Telketna, Tok, Wrangell – St Elias NP, Copper Center, Kodiak NWR and many other places. We’ve stayed in hotels, private homes, wilderness lodges and he has camped in my RV. Hal was a well-traveled eagle.

We did presentations at Boy Scout Eagle Award Ceremonies for the scouts that had done so much for Bird TLC. We also did military retirement ceremonies for those that defended our freedom.

Hal was cared for at Guy Runco’s home. Besides myself, he was also presented by Patricia Garcia and Terri Johnson. In years past he was presented by Heather Merewood, Cindy Palmatier and Kerry Seifort. We all loved Hal, and so did the rest of Bird TLC.
Hal did education presentation for thousands of people. . He enjoyed being in front of an audience. I’d talk about him, other eagles and what’s really cool about them and about Bird TLC. We would do a presentation at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge and people would line up for an hour afterwards to have their picture taken with him. Hal always had the look “Come admire me. I’ll give you my regal eagle pose”.  As Chris Maack says “He was our ed icon”.
I was the fortunate one who got to do his last presentation at the Bird TLC event of the year “For the Birds”. It was most appropriate that he would get out one last time and show off his stuff. And that he did. He was amazing! He was getting compliment after compliment on how handsome, how regal and how majestic he was. He even called out one time during the event which was not his nature. He knew it was him people wanted to see and he gave them what they wanted. As Elise Patkotak said “Maybe this was the way he wanted to go... still in full possession of his powers and after having thrilled a roomful of people with his presence.”
Nothing impedes his free flight to the heavens now. Thanks for the memories. I’m sure going to miss you my feathered friend. I’ll never look at another eagle without thinking of you. Say “Hi” to Dr. Scott, One Wing and Ol’ Witch.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


BE13-10. Let me explain what that means. BE is an abbreviation for bald eagle, 13 is the year it came into Bird TLC's clinic and 10 means the 10th bald eagle so far that year.

BE13-10 was sent to Bird TLC from USF&W Biologist Robin Corcoran in Kodiak NWR on Feb. 17, 2013. He was found in the water. She called me and asked that I'd pick him up at the airport. I did and brought him back to the clinic and bedded him down for the night. He would be examined the next day.

There were no real significant findings during his exam. He was thin, a little beat up, but nothing to keep him from being released soon or so we thought. A few weeks later he was sent to the flight center to build up his strength to be released.

At the flight center, things were a little different. After a few days we would have expected some type of flight. He was a good hopper and a skipper, but no flight. He was even having troubles getting on the perches. Nothing like what we expected. He was kenneled up and returned to the clinic to have another exam.

At his exam, he was found to not have a full range of motion in his left shoulder and also possible spinal damage. There was nothing we could do for him. He was returned to the flight center with the hopes this would work itself out in time.

Time goes by and there's not any improvement and BE13-10 is labeled as not flighted and not releasable. I know, because I wrote it on his chart. He is still being observed but no changes really. He's put on the list for placement, but placement of an adult bald eagle that's not flighted isn't good. Fortunately for him, business had been slow, so there is plenty of room out at the flight center.

About a year ago, I stopped volunteering at the flight center. BE13-10 was still not flight and his future was very uncertain. A few months ago I'm hearing that BE13-10 is flighted, not good but flighted. A few weeks ago I started hearing that his flight is improving and there's a hope of him becoming releasable.

Today I returned to the flight center for the first time in a long while to help with a cleanup and do some repairs. I checked in on BE13-10. He is flighted and looking really good. He's acting like a mature bald eagle and was even preening while I was in his cell.

What a great feeling after 3 1/2 years to see this guy doing so well. If all continues with him improving, he's going to be released back to the wild in Haines, Alaska for the American Bald Eagle Festival on Nov 19.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Scarlet & Hal go to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

A beautiful day at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Scarlet & Hal had their own ride while the rest of had a short hike back to the presentation area.
 We had a very nice crowd from China and an awesome background. It was a very hot day and there were some forest fires burning about 15 miles away.
 It was a little challenging having to use interpreters, since Patricia and I don't speak Mandarin But it went well..
The young kids are the ones most excited and they spoke fair English.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Common Murre die-off has died down after 40K carcasses found this winter

Common Murre die-off has died down after 40K carcasses found this winter: For now, a crisis has been averted for the massive seabird die-off that concerned scientists this winter, according to officials with Anchorage's Bird Training and Learning Center.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Welcome Amy

We're happy to announce that Thursday’s Lead Clinic Volunteer, Amy Kilshaw, has accepted the Avian Rehabilitation Coordinator position and will begin working at Bird TLC on March 9th. Amy brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience that will serve Bird TLC well. Please give her a warm welcome when you see her in the office.